Leadership is Continuous Learning

This past semester I taught a new course in the UW-Platteville Department of Criminal Justice called “Police Leadership in Changing Times.” Most apropros!

I told my senior four-year students that we would be building this course together — and that’s what we did.

Mining the past, I recently updated the workbook we used years ago during the Madison transformation. It addressed values, systems improvement (ala Deming), working in a team, using data to answer the question, “But how do you know?” and the characteristics of what I have become to call “The New Leadership.”

Part of the Madison transformation which was captured in a two-year, outside evaluation[1] by the Police Foundation was that a police organization’s ability to deliver quality services to the community is based on the formula: “Quality from the inside out!”

What that means, and it was a significant learning, is that if a police agency is going to try and improve service delivery to the community it must FIRST prepare the inside of the organization. And that preparation primarily rests in the ability of their leaders to be “quality leaders.”

But since that time, much has been learned and when I talk about the “inside out” today I go much deeper into the “inside” of the individuals who make up that organization. That’s where Procedural Justice [2]and Emotional Intelligence [3]come into play.

So, the learning went like this:

We found the individuals within an improving organization, both police officers and their leaders, must have a combination of the following characteristics which are essential delivering high-quality police services.

This is the equation we developed:

  • Individual core values aligned with society’s values + 
  • High Emotional Intelligence + 
  • The practice of Procedural Justice + 
  • Embracing the skills of the New (non-coercive) Leadership + 
  • Lifelong personal growth and learning = 
  • An effective 21st century police leader. 
From The Quality Leadership Workbook, 2017.







[1] Community Policing in Madison: Quality From the Inside, Out. Technical Report, Mary Ann Wycoff and Wesley G. Skogan. Washington: Police Foundation. 1993.


[3] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JMKVCG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


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